William S. O'Farrell Fellowship

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The William O'Farrell Fellowship is awarded to an individual engaged in research toward a publication, production, or presentation based on moving image history and culture, particularly amateur and nontheatrical film. With this fellowship, we honor the continuing legacy of Canadian film archivist William O’Farrell, a long time advocate for amateur and nontheatrical film collections.

The fellowship is designed to support a month’s study within Northeast Historic Film’s collections. Awardees must commit a minimum of two weeks to research in residency at NHF.

The 2011 winner of the Fellowship was Walter Forsberg, a Research Fellow in New York University's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program.  His project focuses on the Donald C. Brown Jr. Collection of 35mm drive-in and theatrical trailers, from over a dozen cinemas in New England and West Virginia.

In 2010, the first year the Fellowship was awarded, the recipient was Caitlin McGrath, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago, who conducted research here at NHF on the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Her research used films from 15 different NHF collections.

Support the O'Farrell Fellowship
For NHF, the cost of this program is $2,000 per year, including the $1,500 fellowship award.  Our current goal is to raise sufficient funds to support the fellowship for several years, and commit additional funds to the endowment. Gifts of all sizes are welcome and important.  Donors, unless requesting anonymity, will be acknowledged at the NHF Summer Symposium and posted on oldfilm.org.




  • Researchers from all academic disciplines are eligible and encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants may be current graduate students, faculty, or staff at a college or university; archive professionals; film producers; or independent scholars.
  • The fellowship is open to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals with appropriate visas.
  • Proposed research must be for work intended for publication, production, or presentation with significant research in the collections of Northeast Historic Film.

Selection Criteria

The William O'Farrell Fellowship selection committee reviews the following:

  • The applicant's experience,
  • The significance and interest value of the project, and
  • The appropriateness of the proposed research to the collections of Northeast Historic Film.

Available support

  • The program provides a stipend of $1,500,
  • Staff support with access to NHF collection and related databases,
  • Use of film and videotape viewing facilities within NHF business hours,
  • Up to 8 hours of in-house staff time for access copies and/or editing services, if applicable (fees waived),
  • Permissions for educational and research purposes if there are no donor or other exceptions (fees waived), and
  • Office space including a computer with network and internet connections, telephone, and photocopier.
  • Housing is not provided, but NHF staff will assist the fellow in identifying lodging if needed. (Please note, seasonal rentals are plentiful on the Maine coast, but they can be expensive. Off-season rentals typically start at $400 - $600/week. Summer rates are higher. Short-term apartment rentals are difficult to find, but may be available for $600 - $1,200/month.)

How to Apply

A complete application consists of an application form including names and contact for two references and a current curriculum vitae (not to exceed three pages).

Application materials should be emailed to Barbara Manning, NHF Business Manager, at barb@oldfilm.org.

Other Requirements

The fellowship may be assumed any time beginning April 4, 2012, and must be completed by October 31, 2012. The fellow is required to produce an 800 – 1,200 word journalistic article describing activities and findings for publication by NHF.

The fellow is required to conduct a minimum of two weeks research on site at NHF.

Participation in NHF’s Summer Film Symposium in 2012 and/or 2013 is strongly encouraged but not required. (The award will include, in addition to the $1,500 fellowship, complimentary symposium registration.)

About Northeast Historic Film

Northeast Historic Film, an independent nonprofit organization, was founded in 1986 to preserve and make available moving images of interest to the people of northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts). We hold ten million feet of film in 8mm, Super 8mm, 9.5mm, 16mm, 28mm, and 35mm and 8,000 analog and digital video recordings that do not duplicate the film holdings. While the collections were acquired based on their relationship to northern New England, some encompass geography and topics beyond the region due to the histories and interests of the creators. NHF finding aids may be found at www.oldfilm.org/collection/. Moving Images of Work Life, 50 collections newly described thanks to a generous grant from the Council on Library and Information Services Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program, are at www.oldfilm.org/collection/index.php/Browse/HiddenCollectionsList.

NHF is located in a 1916 cinema building with three floors of cold storage and a study center, where the organization hosts an annual Summer Symposium and runs a community cinema.

The William O’Farrell Fellowship was established in 2009 to honor an important individual who contributed in significant ways to the history of NHF. Bill O’Farrell (1954-2008) worked as Chief, Moving Image and Audio Conservation of the Archives of Canada. He was a valued Advisor to NHF, providing intellectual and practical support to the archives for many years.

Further information about Northeast Historic Film can be found at www.oldfilm.org.